Hospice services provide care and comfort for people with serious illnesses. Deciding to start hospice care is difficult because it means admitting that no cure is available or deciding not to continue treatments to prolong a person’s lifespan. Those are tough circumstances to come to terms with for anyone.
As we look at some ways to know when it’s time to start hospice services and why some people tend to wait, we’ll also explain what hospice services provide to help you make an informed decision.
Knowing When to Start Hospice Services
During hospice care, attempts to cure a person’s illness are stopped. The catalyst for deciding to start hospice service may be a doctor’s observation that a patient has six months or less to live without medical intervention.1 For others, it’s decided to stop treatments that create a poor quality of life.
Some people incorrectly equate entering hospice care with giving up hope. Instead, those choosing hospice care realize that it’s time to end curative treatments to preserve a loved one’s quality of life. This is why some patients and families choose to start hospice sooner rather than later. Doing so can avoid suffering and help people have the best quality of life possible during their final days. They can spend time with loved ones in the comfort of their home and have the time they need together.
Along with the decision to enter hospice care comes the grief of knowing that a loved one’s death is near. Coming to terms with this reality can be difficult for people to handle. This is another reason why some people put off beginning hospice care. But hospice services provide social workers and clergy to help families cope with this emotional time.
Deciding when to start hospice care is a personal decision that no one can make for your family. While medical professionals can offer guidance and expertise, patients and their families must ultimately decide.
How Choosing to Start Hospice Sooner Rather Than Later May Help
When families decide to start hospice sooner rather than wait, there are some benefits for both patients and their loved ones.
Stop Suffering & Improve Quality of Life
Patients under hospice care will receive visits from nurses who can help to provide comfort. While medication and treatments geared toward a specific illness will stop, hospice services can help to provide some relief to avoid trips to the emergency room. Since the focus is on comfort rather than a cure, many patients experience an improved quality of life during their remaining days.
Gives Patients Time to Spend with Loved Ones
Deciding to start hospice sooner allows patients to have more time at home with their loved ones rather than spending their final days in the hospital. This can allow family members to visit and get the quality time they deserve before it is too late. Often when patients enter hospice later, their condition has deteriorated to the point where these types of visits are not possible.
Support for Caregivers & Family
Hospice services include support for caregivers and family. This can be through social workers, clergy, or volunteers who help with respite for caregivers. The emotional support hospice care provides for families and caregivers can make a real difference during this difficult time.
Makes the Patient’s Wishes Clear
When hospice care begins, the patient’s wishes become clear. Hospice works to define a patient’s wishes, whether it’s creating advance directives or leaving letters for loved ones. The focus is on the patient and helping them during this time.
What do Hospice Services Provide?
Hospice care is usually given at home to make the patient comfortable. There are also hospice facilities for those who cannot be at home or don’t wish to be there.
When someone decides to start hospice services, a team of caregivers will be assigned. They will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide care and support. A primary caregiver is usually designated at the home when possible. This is the main point person who will give and receive information.
The rest of the care team comprises doctors, nurses, social workers, dietitians, home health aides, and clergy. When a treatment plan is developed, a schedule for nursing care is typically established. This is very flexible, as a patient’s needs can change overnight. The nursing staff is reachable around the clock to answer questions and address concerns.
Hospice services provide any home medical equipment and necessary medications. Hospice care also provides emotional and spiritual support when needed. Volunteers may be called in to provide support and allow family members to rest during this difficult time.
Hospice Services from Aleca
When you decide to start hospice services for your loved ones, Aleca is here to help. We offer the professional and supportive hospice care that families deserve. Our hospice care teams include an attending physician, nursing care manager, medical director, home health aides, certified nurse practitioners, and volunteers. We have the experience to help guide you through this difficult time.
Contact Aleca today by phone or online so that we can answer your questions about our hospice services and begin the process if the time is right for you and your loved one. Our compassionate staff is available for you.
Dan is Vice President, Marketing of the Alumus family of companies. A Seattle native, he earned his BA in Humanities and Political Science at Evergreen State College. He started his career as a newspaper columnist, eventually transitioning into marketing and tech writing for Microsoft and several other startups. He later launched a successful creative agency focused on branding, digital marketing, and content production in Los Angeles, where he worked for several nursing and behavioral health clients, eventually becoming the National Marketing Director for one of them.
He has taught Vipassana mindfulness meditation and MBSR and spends whatever free time he has with his son snowboarding, hiking, and camping in the mountains.